One of my favorite low-prep tools to use in the kindergarten classroom is a picture schedule that is on display for the whole class. This small addition to the daily routine is a great way to support students while keeping the day on track. In this post, I’m going to share several reasons why it’s such a good idea to use a whole-class picture schedule for kindergarten.
What is a Picture Schedule?
As you could probably guess, a picture schedule is a list of your daily activities in picture form. Most picture schedule cards include a simple word or two along with each picture. The picture schedule cards are then displayed on the board, in a pocket chart, or in some other prominent place in the classroom.
6 Reasons to Use a Picture Schedule for Kindergarten
There are so many reasons why picture schedules are a good idea for kindergarten classrooms. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Support All Learners
As with any visual support in kindergarten, a picture schedule is a great way to ensure that you are providing support to all of your students. As a kindergarten teacher, most of your students are still learning to read. You might even have students in your classroom who are learning English as their second language. It’s also likely that you have students in your classroom that experience challenges with receptive language. A picture schedule is a great way to support all of these individual needs with one simple tool!
The pictures on each card of a visual schedule provide important cues for young students. It helps them be more independent in problem-solving, since they can look to the schedule to answer their own questions about the daily routine. This leads me to the next benefit of whole-class visual schedules: Limiting interruptions.
2. Limit Interruptions and Questions
Since the majority of young kindergarten students are unfamiliar with telling time and reading a clock, they rely on other methods to know when it’s time for recess or lunch. Their favorite method seems to be asking the teacher!
A picture schedule is extremely helpful in limiting the number of interruptions from students asking what’s happening next, when they’ll be able to go to recess, or how long it will be until lunch. When students inevitably ask you some of these questions, you can easily point to the picture schedule in response. This makes it easier for you to get back to what you were doing after an interruption.
3. Ease Student Anxiety
A picture schedule can go a long way in helping students feel more at ease in the classroom. Think about how uncomfortable you feel in a meeting when there isn’t any sort of written agenda. You have no idea what’s going to be discussed, what might be expected of you, when you’ll be able to take a break, and so on.
The same is true for our students! When they can walk in the door and see a visual outline for the day, it helps them mentally prepare for what’s to come. This is especially helpful when the schedule is out of the normal routine.
4. Transition More Smoothly
A whole-class picture schedule can be a helpful tool for students who have difficulty transitioning between activities. Sometimes the difficulty with transitions can stem from the student not knowing what is coming next. Having a visual reminder of what they will be doing after their current task is very helpful in this situation. You can also turn the cards over as you complete the tasks, making it easier for students to see what they will be doing next.
Transitions can also be difficult when switching to a less-preferred task or activity. A picture schedule can help students see that the task they are dreading is just a smaller part of the whole day. Soon, it will get flipped over like all of the other cards and they can move on to something else.
5. Provide Structure for the Day
A picture schedule provides a solid foundation for your daily routine. You can map out the main time blocks and highlights of the school day. You can go over the picture schedule with your students during a morning meeting or carpet time. This gives your students a chance to see the structure for the day, as well. This small part of the daily routine really goes a long way in creating consistency and predictability in your classroom.
6. Keep Yourself on Track
Visual schedules aren’t just for students! You’ll find that you refer to the picture schedule often throughout the day. This is especially true on days when there are special activities or schedule changes. These things can be easy to forget about once you’re in the thick of your daily routine! Having your daily activities on display in your classroom can keep you on track.
Taking the time to map out your schedule before the day starts can also help you see potential hiccups in the routine. You might notice that the addition of an assembly means that you need to end literacy centers a few minutes early. This is another way that picture schedules can keep you on track!
More Tips for Kindergarten Picture Schedules
Check out this video with some additional tips for using picture schedules in kindergarten. If you find this video helpful, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel!
Kindergarten Picture Schedule Printables
I have created a resource with a wide variety of cards that you can use to put together your own picture schedule! There are even some blank cards that you can customize for your own classroom. You can also print these on a smaller scale for individual visual schedules.
If you’d like to take a closer look at everything included in this resource, you can find it in the Teaching Exceptional Kinders shop or on TPT.
Save These Tips About Using a Picture Schedule for Kindergarten
Be sure to add the pin below to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest! You’ll be able to quickly find these tips when you’re ready to set up your own picture schedule for kindergarten.